ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Identifying the Poor

A committee has suggested a new and better approach, but there is room for further improvement.

The shift towards targeted programmes in government expenditure on poverty alleviation has made it important to have an objective, transparent and just method for identifying the poor. This move towards targeting, as against providing universal entitlements, has been justified by the need to plug the “leakages” in the public service delivery mechanism.

The Ministry of Rural Development’s BPL Census is used to identify beneficiaries in different schemes such as the Public Distribution System, National Old Age Pension Scheme and the Total Sanitation Campaign. This census has been conducted thrice: in 1992, 1997 and 2002. Each of these censuses covered a different set of criteria (such as the monthly household income and consumption expenditure), as also exclusion criteria and finally a methodology of Score Based Ranking of each household with 13 socio-economic parameters was used to identify the poor. However, field studies and even National Sample Surveys showed that all of them resulted in large errors of exclusion (many deserving poor being left out of the beneficiary list) and inclusion (many non-poor being included in the beneficiary list).

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